Document Details

A Compilation of Water Quality Goals

Jon B. Marshack | January 1st, 2016

This State Water Resources Control Board (State Water Board) staff report, A Compilation of Water Quality Goals, supersedes the April 2011 edition and all prior editions and updates published by the State Water Resources Control Board and the Central Valley Regional Water Quality Control Board. Earlier editions and updates should be discarded, as they contain outdated information.

The text of this edition has been updated mainly to reflect the transfer of California’s Drinking Water Program from the Department of Public Health (CDPH) to the Division of Drinking Water (DDW) at the State Water Resources Control Board (State Water Board). Information about this transfer is online at Cited examples and hyperlinks to reference materials have also been updated.

Water Quality Goals includes an online searchable database of water quality based numeric thresholds available at The database contains up-to-date numeric thresholds from a variety of sources for over 860 chemical constituents and water quality parameters, including:

  • California and Federal drinking water standards (MCLs)
  • California Public Health Goals (PHGs)
  • California State Notification and Response Levels for drinking water
    Health Advisories, Water Quality Advisories, and Drinking Water Advisories
  • Cancer Risk Estimates
  • Health-based criteria from USEPA’s Integrated Risk Information System (IRIS)
  • California Proposition 65 Safe Harbor Levels
  • California Toxics Rule Criteria to protect human health and aquatic life
  • California Ocean Plan Water Quality Objectives
  • U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (USEPA) Recommended Water Quality Criteria to Protect Human Health and Aquatic Life
  • Agricultural use protective thresholds
  • Taste and odor based criteria

The narrative Selecting Water Quality Goals contains information to help users to understand California’s water quality standards adopted to protect the beneficial uses of surface water and groundwater resources, available criteria and guidance for evaluating water quality, and to help users select defensible numeric assessment thresholds based on applicable water quality standards. To use this information correctly, it is necessary to read Selecting Water Quality Goals carefully before using numeric thresholds from the database.

Water Quality Goals is a technical report prepared by staff of the State Water Board. It is intended to help identify and assess potential water quality concerns. This report is an informational tool only and does not establish State Water Board policy or regulation. The information presented in this report is not binding on any person or entity, nor does it represent final action of the State Water Board or any Regional Water Board. This report is not intended, nor can it be relied upon, to create any rights enforceable by any party in litigation in the State of California. The overseeing regulatory authority may decide to use the information provided herein, or to act at a variance with the information, based on analysis of site and case-specific circumstances.


drinking water, water quality

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